The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Book Recs?

butterflygrooves's picture

Book Recs?

I want to start making different kinds of bread, I've been making a whole wheat molasses sandwich loaf for months now and want to learn other techniques.

What books would you recommend as a good place to start?  I eventually want to get into artisan breads also.

sphealey's picture

What types of bread do you want to bake?  Different bread books have different themes and directions, so it would help to know where you want to go and whether you are an intuitive or detail-oriented baker.


You might also want to use the site's search box to look for "book recommendations", "cookbook", and similar strings; there have been many good discussions of books over the last 5 years.

breadsong's picture


These books I have found to be exceptionally helpful, in their quality and level of instruction:
Bread, author Jeffrey Hamelman
Artisan Breads at Home with the Culinary Institute of America, author Eric W. Kastel
The Bread Bible, author Rose Levy Beranbaum
Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads, author Ciril Hitz

I'm sure the other Recommended Books on this site would be very good too. Oh, and there is a fantastic bagel method in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice!

Regards, breadsong


jstreed1476's picture

Here are the three that I have used the most:

The Bread Bible by Beranbaum. The one I started with. Good - Lots of great breads--especially enriched sandwich breads; recipes grouped by type of bread. Bad - sometimes repetitious because basic techniques are explained in full in each recipe; sourdough section a bit confusing; kind of persnickety about ingredients; not much whole grain action. I still use it for about 10-20% of the breads I make.

Bread Bakers Apprentice by Reinhart. The one I wish I'd started with. Good - fantastic introduction to basic techniques; clear illustrations; whole grains get decent space; recipes well-written; good sourdough introduction. Bad - hard to think of anything. I use it weekly.

The Art of Handmade Bread (aka The Handmade Loaf) by Lepard. My most recent purchase, and the one that has been the biggest influence lately. I use this one differently than the others--I don't so much follow its recipes as its overall approach to bread, especially kneading. I don't think it would be the best place to start, exactly, but it has been important to how I think about bread.

In the end, I think a lot of us wind up combining the best parts of many books. In my case, my basic pattern is the soaker/"epoxy" method of Reinhart + the kneading technique of Lepard + plus the "magic bowl" steaming method by TFL's own Susan.

And of course, the ongoing, collaborative, never-finished book called The Fresh Loaf is truly a wonder. Enjoy the community!